By John Daniel Quinto Tangalin
Where to stream it? Showtime or the Paramount+ w/ Showtime bundle
Starring: Sophia Nélisse, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Sophie Thatcher, Courtney Eaton, Liv Hewson, Samantha Hanratty, Steven Krueger, Kevin Alves, Melanie Lynskey, Tawny Cypress, Christina Ricci, Juliette Lewis, Simone Kessell, Lauren Ambrose, Warren Kole, Nia Sondaya, Alexa Barajas, Nuha Jes Izman, Elijah Wood, Jane Widdop
Directed by: Scott Winant
Written by: Julia Bicknell & Liz Phang
Intro: Yellowjackets Season 2 Episode 4 Review
This weekend's episode of the psychological horror drama series, Yellowjackets, is chock-full of narrative beats that further develop the individual dynamics of its beloved characters this season.
The second season's fourth episode is titled “Old Wounds.”
Minor spoilers ahead for those who have not seen Yellowjackets Season 1, along with the previous three episodes of Season 2.
“Old Wounds” is a lovely episode that transitions and moves its narrative from scene to scene with music supervisor Nora Felder's use of song selections such as Evita's “Rainbow Tour” and Sparks's “Angst in My Pants”, or tilts down into darkness with reappearances into the past. As with last weekend's entry for the season, what I find admirable are the Easter Eggs and references that the writers sprinkled into this new entry.
Ben Scott's (Steven Krueger) reading of John Fowles's post-modern novel, The Magus, and the inclusion of music composers Craig Wedren and Anna Waronker's Yellowjackets theme are quite on-the-nose when it comes to the meta-narrative of the series' digging up of the past.
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Also noteworthy is the introduction of adult Vanessa “Van” Palmer (Lauren Ambrose). The way the writers go about this involves references to the Wachowski sisters' Bound, Danny Boyle's Trainspotting, along with a few classics from Paramount Pictures – Wayne's World, Mean Girls, Into the Wild, Footloose, and Varsity Blues. While I cannot speak of all of these films, at least a handful of them demonstrate significance to the series.
The Wachowskis' film centers on two women in love and on the run from the world and its trouble that force to tear them asunder. Likewise, Wayne's World follows a character searching to maintain control of his own little world, yet in a much different radical manner.
Mean Girls, Footloose, and Varsity Blues all focus on a theme of social control. Yet, what they also have in common is a sense of kinship, not by blood, but by commonality, where it be within high school hierarchies, love for song and dance, or sports.
These are elements that can be found imbued into Yellowjackets, and it shows that perhaps Van is someone who can help bring the surviving soccer team together.
Justice in Juxtaposition
Additionally, the episode continues to uncover the past in such a splendid Gothic fashion that often works for creators Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson's series. As explored in previous Yellowjackets episodes such as “Edible Complex”, the writers call upon the juxtaposition of its characters and the lives they each live.
For example, teenage Misty Quigley's (Samantha Hanratty) friendship with Crystal (guest star Nuha Jes Izman) is quite similar from adult Misty's (Christina Ricci) dynamic with Walter Tattersall (guest star Elijah Wood). The three characters' fervent admiration for showtunes is a special one that keeps them sane.
Misty's refusal to bond with Walter is not just a refusal of romantic progression, but also a refusal to return to the past and certain friends she lost, which plays a huge role in next weekend's episode. Still, the split-screen montage between the two “Citizen Detectives” is one of the cutest sequences fans will get in terms of “ships.”
Shauna Sadecki née Shipman's (Melanie Lynskey) relationship with her family – Callie (guest star Sarah Desjardins) and Jeff (Warren Kole) – creates a steeper hole for itself as she chooses to move forward through uncanny motions. With her daughter now involved in the investigation of a “missing” person, matters only take a turn for the worst.
Consequently, Jeff is urged into putting on the “more responsible parent” role, beginning with a potent 21-second monologue about protecting one's future from the surfacing of the past. The layers given here further corroborate his ethos as the quintessential father figure. Curious enough, a line about their household number within the dialogue also foreshadows the imminent fate of teenage Shauna's (Sophie Nélisse) late-'90s son…
Performances and Character Developments
Adult Natalie “Nat” Scatorccio (Juliette Lewis)'s dynamic with Lisa (guest star Nicole Maines) is another development to be highlighted. As a foil, Lisa serves as a reflection of Nat's own life. The young woman's confrontation with her mother and with depression picks at scabs that are very much akin to Nat's.
This uncovers a realization and truth about Nat that suggests a brighter side to life. Moreso, the goldfish that Lisa eventually gains in her possession is indicative of a life worth securing, whereas the deer and moose that the Yellowjackets aim to hunt in the wilderness represents death as a metaphorical means of consumption and transformation.
In juxtaposition with Ben's fever dream, teenage Charlotte “Lottie” Matthews (Courtney Eaton) finds herself in a well-written hypothermic hallucination-nightmare sequence that leads back to an old friend, Laura Lee (guest star Jane Widdof).
Even better for the narrative is adult Lottie's (Simone Kessell) encounter with a Queen, a scene done with an excellent score as well as vocals from Caroline Shaw. This continues from a play on queen bees but also points to the cards that characters deal, such as in the next episode.
Final Thoughts: Yellowjackets Season 2 Episode 4 Review
Taissa (Jasmin Savoy Brown and Tawny Cypress) and Van's (Liv Hewson and Ambrose) dynamic is one that does not get much time under the spotlight in this episode. However, the next two episodes will further showcase what their respective roles will be within the Yellowjackets as a collective.
In next weekend's episode, we see the fall of one character, while the following episode of the season brings about the death of an unseen.